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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

701 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 701
Hads: 1,680
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 21.76%
Wants: 69
Gots: 195 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  6.90% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: maxpower on 11-18-2001

Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 701 | Hads: 1,680
Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The color is dark ruby and the head holds a light and festive fizz.

The aromas are somewhat spicy with a dried fruit backdrop. I get light nutmeg and peppercorns with a prune and date like candied fruit.

The flavor is reminiscent of Belgian dark ale as the dried fruits are at the forefront. The tastes are sweet with prune, date and raisin and the date is most evident. This has a real fruit cake like flavor but it is more alive than the waxy gift you may get at Christmas.

Everything about this beer cries Christmas from the dark ruby coloring to the fruit cake like smells and taste. The feel is thicker and lends to a more easy sipping by the fire style.

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Photo of JMad
4.09/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

It pours a clear copper color with reddish hues and a thick, foamy, off white head.

In the nose I noticed some caramel and sugar cookie, maybe a slight hint of clove and cinnamon in the background.

The taste is full of caramel malt with a nice warmness from the ABV and a cracker flavored finish.

It s medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a warming finish.

This is a nice Winter seasonal and I'd buy it again.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

At first I was a bit disappointed as winter warmers are often very heavily spiced --- something which the label guaranteed --- and this beer was immediately spicy. At best I thought it was better than average amber.

But then I changed my mind. This beer needs a little time to sit in the glass and warm up for it to shine. The flavors are still subtle but they are there: caramel and malt, winter spices. Mouthfeel is fairly light but kinda silky too (as the label also promised... oh wait am I being susceptible to the label's verbiage? Oh well, it is working.) Maybe a tinge of maple, definitely more maple.

Aroma was subtle at first but also seems to build in a caramelish direction.

Overall, I would drink it again but I'll let it rest in the glass a bit before sipping. I do think I prefer the more assertively spiced holiday beers though.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Boat Works in St. Clair Shores, Michigan for $5.25 a pint.

Appearance: A dark brown sort of color with maybe half a finger of head on it. Almost no lacing. The low-point of this beer, but no big deal. Looks almost on-point for what I'd expect from the style, even if a bit lighter.

Smell: Candy corn. Really, that's almost it. Smells a LOT like candy corn. That and caramel... definitely a warmer as I'd expect it to be, with a lot of malt characteristics, and not much hop.

Taste/feel: Candy corn. I don't care for candy corn, but this actually really worked well for me. Seriously almost just like candy corn with some spice and caramel. I guess, now looking at other reviews, it can also come off as vanilla and caramel as well, which is basically the taste of candy corn, if I remember it correctly. Hops aren't really noticeable in the smell or taste per se, but this beer is not overly sweet. The feel has a nice, full-body, and a moderate carbonation. A very pleasant sipper, and a beer that I really enjoyed. I haven't had many winter warmers, but if they tend to be like this one, color me impressed. I'd very gladly have another. Well crafted.

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Photo of scar
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I have been drinking this beer for a few years now, however this is the first year I have had the offering in a can. As a result, this beer vs. the bottle offerings from years past are different but not better or worse.

appearance- beautiful deep amber, but hazy even when warm, yet I never really care about this unless the style demands clarity. Winter Warmers can be hazy as far as I'm concerned. More carbonated than years past, not a shocker, cans do that.

smell- I have always thought this beer was spiced, however it is done sooo well I can't tell. Maybe cinnamon or anise or maybe nothing IDK. Smell supports the taste but in a more subtle way. Malt, dark fruit, bock-like malt flavors from the grain bill, like a little malt hammer.

taste- I usually reviews beers because their taste demands me to. This beer is malty like a bock or double bock which is evident from the grain bill reflected in the taste. Make no mistake this is an ale with sweet malt and firm dark crystal malt sugar flavors. Low bitterness very appropriate. Low Chocolate but no choc malt used.

Mouth- medium full

more people should drink and write and talk about this malty treat, more beers should be made like this.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

date reviewed: 27 January 2013...
glassware: Ayinger willibecker...
occasion: anticipating another "winter event" tomorrow...
appearance: medium-brown body with even, cirrus lacing; not much effervescence; thick head dissipates quickly...
aroma: brilliant,, fragrantly fruity bouquet; some spices too; malt and hops seem balanced in their non-entity....
palate: warming, full-bodied, raspy and ragged mouthfeel; bubbly and active at the tongue...
taste: currants, raisins, and doughy accents make this an enjoyable, flavorful experience--some berry hints too, but a bit medicinal in the finish...
overall: Anderson Valley has done a lot right, and this beer follows in the tradition; respectable...

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, no bottled on date, but this is the 2012 winter seasonal release, I'm sure. Poured into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

A - Pours a quarter inch of off-white / khaki colored head that quickly dissolves into a thin layer of foam, bubbling it's way out of existence. Body is a very dark ruby / blood orange / chestnut color.

S - Smell is of winter spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, some earthy, barrel aged oak, cream & vanilla smells come secondary. Bit of alcohol astringency, and some cherry & fermented dark fruit. Cherry vanilla smell is dominant, but doesn't always come off as smelling natural.

T - The beer is light bodied and smooth, with a faint hint of alcohol warmth, and bit of medicinal cherry flavored syrup. Some woody, barrel aged vanilla poking about in there, but it doesn't seem totally genuine, if you ask me. A decent tasting beer, but definitely not the best tasting beer I've ever had. A simple brew.

M - Feel comes off somewhat hot and carbonated. Not a horrible tasting beer, but not one I would recommend sessioning. Fruity, bitter, & dry aftertaste on this beer.

Overall, it isn't a horrible beer, but it is definitely not a beer I will ever consider drinking again. Seems very imbalanced, with a lot of off-putting aspects: too sweet & sugary, with a medicinal artificial cherry vanilla syrup like taste. Underwhelming, for damn sure. My second beer from Anderson Valley Brewing Co., and not one I will be having again any time soon. Looking forward to other endeavors from this brewery.

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale ---3.5/5

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz can poured into a snifter. No canned on date, but I gotta assume it was from sometime this early winter.

Pours out a hazy deep red color, maybe a little orange and brown. A decent looking yellowish light tan head, spotty lacing.

Smells of sweet malts, dark dried fruits, brown sugar, with a bit of a fruity ester aroma.

Sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, plum, brown sugar, fruity esters, a bit of apple, and just a hint of warmth from the alcohol.

Medium bodied, just a touch too much carbonation for the style.

Kind of like a light version of an old ale. Not really my cup of tea, especially when it comes to winter Warner's, I prefer them with some roast and maybe a bit of x-mas spice.

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Photo of pkalix
4.75/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

beautiful honey-toffee color, minimal head, but a thick tan layer and a nice cover on the sides.
smells very sweet with honey and toffee on the top.
taste reminds me of an english type of brew, with the typical english malts. i actually really like this. another good, long draught to determine whether i can consciously give this a five! alright, i'm not even buzzed yet and this stuff is AWESOME!! if it were a 4.9% brew i'd knock it down a bit, but at 6.9% this is very nice. slight bitterness on the side of the tongue, but an overall subtle sweetness and this really satisfies. i'd honestly give this a 98 or 99 for the taste, but since i cannot, i'm giving it a 5. 4.5 for appearance and smell as i really like the thickness on the sides and the smell promises happiness before the first quaff. i am very impressed with this, especially since it's all gone on sale at Total Wine because, i suppose, we're done with the 'seasonals' . . . .

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.52/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a red 355 ml can. Pours out a hazed nutty amber hue, two fingers of spongy light beige head that settle to a thick cap.

Caramel malt on the nose, a bit of chocolate, along with some nutmeg, coriander, citrus rind, and a bit of a cidery character.

Caramel and some sweet chocolate up front in the flavour, spices are milder on the finish, some nuttiness.

Medium-bodied mouthfeel, texture is a bit thin yet sticky, with medium carbonation that is able to hold it all together at least.

Mild in terms for the style, some malty goodness going on, an easy drinker for a Winter Warmer.

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Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

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Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a shaker pint. Deep amber, creamy head. Smells of spice and toffee and vanilla. Creamy texture, lots of earthy, holiday spice. Not as good as I remember from a few years ago, yet still very solid.

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Photo of phishsihq
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This seasonal release from Anderson Valley pours a clear amber with a touch of orange noticeable as well. A khaki colored head fades quickly but leaves a decent lace. Spice on the nose provides hints of orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus. Rich malt flavors and a touch of vanilla lead into flavors that include orange, amaretto, caramel, nutmeg, and spices. The citrus hops help balance out the sweetness and mellow the spices to not overpower the palate. Medium-light mouthfeel, Winter Solstice is moderately carbonated. Perfect for a cold winter night!

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Photo of constantine_272
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark copper. A bit hazy. Light brown thin foam. Visibly more bubbly than a lot of other beer.

S: Smell isn't that great. First impression was alcohol. A second trust smelling revealed caramel and chocolate, but still alcohol.

T: I had low expectations after smelling the beer first; I expected a strong alcohol heavy taste. I was wrong. First taste I get is a tang of mild hops, then softening to caramel, and continuing to soften to a sweet and rich chocolate. I didn't expect the chocolate. Either based on the color. A final flavor or sweet red raspberry lingers on the back of the tongue on the finish.

M: Finishes with a bit of a salty feeling. Taste lingers bit longer than I would like.

O: Sweet and flavorful. The diverse flavors work we'll together and create a depth of flavor that seems to change with each sip. It's fascinating to drink, the sum of its parts is greater than its parts individually. Despite minor imperfections, still a truly top notch beverage. I got this in a sampler pack so I sadly only got one; I may need to look for a six pack of this next winter.

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Photo of jucifer1818
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark amber in color, with a clean clear appearance, but a very quick forming and quick disappearing head.

s: for a holiday beer, this beer needs a lot more "oomph" for its smell. You can get a hint of some nice spice and caramel malt smells, but it isn't strong enough to really define the beer. The best part of this beer its its distinctly belgany yeast smell, which is quite nice, but it needs more definition to have the winter smell to it

T: again, this beer is dominated by the mellow bengany tastes. IT really tasted like a Belgian amber ale, with little to no hops in the flavor (which is dominated by the benganly flavors). It has some hops in the after taste, and the body has some light beady malty flavors mixed in to it. Overall Its a nice beer. For almost 7%, you can taste none of it, and its quite easy to drink.

mouthfeel: This bee has a slick,, light (very light) syrupy feeling in the mouthfeel, with a nice bit of prickliness from the yeast flavors/carbonation.

Overall: This is not a bad beer. Its not the best holiday beer I've had, but it occupies a unique nitch in-between heavier ABV and spiced holiday brews. Its almost more of a session holiday brew, something to have 2-4 of at dinner, which I assure you, would make you quite drunk.
for what it is, I think it easily deserves a 4/5

I feel that this is a great beer to go hafsies on with a friend, have a nice large meal with (like, for ex, Thanksgiving) and have a truely fantastic night of drunkniness and excellent food.
just my 2 cents


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Photo of chanokokoro
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. can in stemmed English ale glass

Pours a maple syrup-colored amber capped with an off-white billowing head. Excellent retention with plenty of lacing. Big caramel aroma rounded out by plums and notes of brandy. Toffee, black cherries, plum and various stone fruit notes. Biscuity notes midpalate Finishes with caramel covered black cherries. Medium body, smooth, silky mouthfeel; moderate carbonation. Wonderful winter warmer, one of the best available.

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Photo of Huffs
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams glass, developed a nice tan head which lasted and laced well. Appearance was a hazy amber red color. Aroma was mild and somewhat malty and fruity. Taste was strong of caramel with hints of spice an vanilla. Mouthfeel was creamy and had a clinging effect to the tough. Aftertaste was lasting and sweet.

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Photo of chinchill
3.91/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can served at about 42F in a snifter. Poured out clear but dark, reddish amber with a moderate size, beige head. The head, unfortunately, dies too quickly but not completely, and decent lacing is left on the glass.

The smell of this beer was a spicy and malty mix that hinted of spiced cider.
The taste largely followed, with spices and malts clearly present, but it also has some nice baked bread tones and a good bit of chocolate. Apple is only faintly hinted, and the sweet aroma arises from a brew that has good sweet/bitter balance.

The mouthfeel was very good in terms of carbonation (medium) and had a nice, if delicate, touch of dryness in the finish, but it seemed a little too thin.

Overall: a pleasant and distinct brew that improved with warming. (near 4)

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Photo of FosterJM
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

1713th Review on BA
Bottle to red solo cup

Shared with bgrider85 on beer geek radio finals

App- It was a bit darker than I thought. Even from a top level view since I couldnt see it, looked a bit lighter on the edges to me. The head was a bit bubbly and fast receding. Maybe a touch of cling to it.

Smell- Had a lot going on in this one. More of a chocolate, malty, graham cracker, dark fruit aroma. On the show I called it a dubbel aroma with some yeasty notes mixed in.

Taste- I enjoyed this beer. Much more chocolate forward than a spicy regular winter warmer. A touch on the malty side but pretty balanced. The yeast and malts created a nice flavor profile on which to play off of on this one. A good amount of that 6.9 is hidden and dont get really any boozy notes.

Mouth- A bit of a lighter medium and semi bubbly body with a fairly soft and balanced carbonation flavor behind it. The residual flavors are a bit of the less harsh dubbel with more chocolate.

Drink- One of the better winter warmers out there. Big thanks to the Beer Geek Radio guys for having me on the show.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clear as day orange-tinted gold/brown/rusty copper with solid retentive head and pretty consistent, impressive lacing

Scent: Fruity esters, rum cake, some ethanol heat, figs, bready and caramel maltiness, some light spiciness perhaps. Nicely complex and interesting

Taste: A veritable malt-bouquet; deep and rich flavors ranging from biscuity to almost-chocolatey; fruity, nutty and earthy; very round and enjoyable

Mouthfeel: Light-medium carbonation brings out some of the flavors and allows the beer to approach a satisfying finish complete with warming alcohol

Drinkability: Pretty great. Nothing is too heavy and all the flavors you expect for the season are accounted for

Overall: AV Winter Solstice is like a ramped-up version of the Summer version; a more warming, maltier and thicker affair nevertheless affected by some very similar flavors and tones. There are definite positives to this, including the complexity of flavors being offered, and it drinks as expected of a stronger ale for the Winter months.

Read full review @ http://blogs.lowellsun.com/beer/2012/12/15/anderson-valley-winter-solstice/

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Photo of ToasterChef
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A cold can is poured into a pint glass.

The beer is quite foamy, with a nice cascading head that is changing into liquid. Within the liquid, lots of clinging carbonation can be seen, as well as a decent amount of rising bubbles. Decent lacing is left behind.

The beer has a pleasant aroma. In the nose, there seems to be a good amount of spices layered over a strong malt base.

Like the nose suggests, this is a malty, spiced brew. I can taste brown sugar, cinnamon, and a slight toffee flavor. It is a velvety sweetness. Some alcohol can be detected, although it isn't out of place in the overall flavor.

This is a heavier beer, with plenty of carbonation. The alcohol provides a nice warming sensation. The high amount of malt does leave my mouth a little sticky.

This is a nice winter warmer. It certainly meets my needs on a snowy night like tonight. I can see myself enjoying a few of these in an evening...good thing I have one more can down in the cellar.

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Photo of RickS95
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

It's a nice looking pour. Dirty brown with an offtan head up top. The beer is dark enough (mahogany) that you can't see through it, but you can still see what I can only describe as a richness. The head cascades to a couple fingers thick before giving way to half a finger where it stays for the duration. It's got a soapy look and has nice lacing.

Smell is muted a bit, possibly because my fridge is too cold. Even after warming, the nose struggles to find anything. What's there is all malt, mostly caramel it seems.

The taste, OMG. It's got some spices and some fruits, and again, a malty base. Not much hoppiness, but that taste is pretty outstanding. Cinnamon, caramel, dark, rich, ripe fruits.

Mouthfeel is about as good as it gets. I really don't know how you'd improve. It's spicy and sweet, earthy and full-bodied. Alcohol is only noticeable enough to let you know it's a beer. There's almost no bitterness, just the faintest bit in the finish, but everything else works so well together it's not really needed.

Overall, it's a hell of a good beer. Best beer I've ever had out of a can. Goes down extremely easily...making you beg for another sip. Possibly my new favorite Christmas beer.

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Photo of rafinator
4.68/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this beer at a "gourmet" burger joint. Ordered it after asking for a good brown ale and having the waitress suggest it. Surprisingly smooth and somewhat sweet. Moderately strong. After 2 pints I felt pretty jolly. Will order it again if it's still around.

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Photo of RJLarse
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's in Coeur d'Alene. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a nut brown color, clear with a small off-white head.

Smell is sweet and candy like.

Taste is a caramel flavor with a smokey mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is medium and slightly cloying.

A very drinkable winter seasonal. It is warming. My wife even liked it and she does not like beer.

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Photo of facundoCNB
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

an opaque amber pour with 2 fingers of off-white head, patchy lacing, good retention.
smells of chocolate, raisins, dates, fig, cinnamon. the flavor is very sweet up front with lots of raisin notes, caramel, fig.. subtle nutty notes as well. very sweet, very tasty!
medium body leaning towards full.. nicely carbonated, rich and creamy.

a surprisingly great beer and for only $4 a bomber. very filling, great for the winter months.

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 701 ratings.